Thursday, July 28, 2005

Hurrah for CAFTA - A First Step to something better

The US House of Representatives voted 217 to 215 for the Central American Freet Trade Area agreement. Great news despite the total opposition (except for 15 heroic Democrats voting for the deal) of the US Democratic Party.

Having read some of the statements of Democratic Congress men and women ('I support free trade BUT...) I see sectional interests of some constituencies welded to hostility to anything sponsored by George Bush.

Typical opponents include the unaptly named Congressman Adam Smith from Washington State who produced what I can describe with justice, weasel words to work against the interests of both US consumers and workers, and the intetests of the much poorer people of Central America and the Dominican Republic. Because CAFTA did no correct every injustice immediately (how could it?) he opposed this CAFTA until a better one came along.

This reminds me of Lord Home, former British Primeminister, who intervened in the devolution debate in Scotland in 1979 with the spurious line that if the Devolution Bill on offer was rejected, then it would allow a 'better bill to be introduced later'. Some silly people believed him - he had a high reputation in Britain - and the referendum was lost. Of course, no such 'better' , or any, devolution Bill appeared until after 1997, when a new Labour government was elected.

If Congressman Adam Smith believes a 'better CAFTA' will come along if Congress had voted against the one of offer, he would have been unlikely to live long enough to see it. If he does not believe there is a better one likely to be on offer, then he is a cynical protectionist, disguising himself as in favour of free trade. Politics is about compromises and having to accept less than perfect solutions to problems. The original Adam Smith understood that; Congressman Adam Smith apparently does not - yet.


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